IMAGINING THE INDIAN Filmmakers’ Statement on the Washington Football Team Name Change 

WASHINGTON, D.C. (July 13, 2020)

The Filmmakers behind Imagining the Indian, a documentary film currently in production at The Ciesla Foundation about the movement to eradicate Native American names, logos and mascots in the world of sports and beyond, proudly join in the celebration of the Washington Football Team’s decision to end the use of the most offensive Native American racial slur in professional sports! The trailer for Imagining the Indian can be viewed at the film’s website,

“The Washington football team’s name will no longer be a racist slur after 87 years thanks to the activism in the Native American community, especially shown by Suzan Harjo, and the moral consciousness currently displayed in the corporate community.  Dan Snyder finally joins two other DC sports owners, Abe Pollin and Ted Lerner, in adopting new names for their teams,” said co-director Aviva Kempner. 

“The retirement of Washington’s name and imagery has been a long time coming. Now we move on to what replaces these things, and I am hopeful that this is done respectfully and responsibly,” added co-director Ben West.

The filmmakers are excited to celebrate this victory for the movement, but recognize that it is only a battle in an ongoing war against Native American mascoting. While the Washington Football team was the most well-known purveyor of this brand of racism, Native American mascoting is still a pervasive evil in American culture. 

The filmmakers are hopeful that the next name of the Washington Football Team franchise will avoid any connection to the team’s past offenses, but the lack of inclusion of Native Americans in the process to select the next name is troubling. 

“The team is taking a racist approach to solving a racist problem,” noted co-producer Kevin Blackistone. 

“It’s telling that this change was prompted by the bravery of the nation’s young protestors challenging systemic racism and injustices rather than the owner who was given every opportunity to answer that same call,” explained co-producer Sam Bardley. 

One down, which is next? Atlanta Braves? Cleveland Indians? Kansas City Chiefs? Chicago Blackhawks? Golden State Warriors? 

The filmmakers are available for interviews. 

#          #          #

Contact Ciesla at, Aviva Kempner at, 202-244-1347, Ben West at, Kevin Blackistone at, and Sam Bardley at